The New Missionary Flat

by Paul Schamberger

New missionary flat at RUC is like a home from home

RUC recently announced the opening of a spacious new flat on the church’s property for visiting missionaries and their families.

Paul Schamberger asked Jenni Kurten, Missions Co-ordinator, and Erin Wiesner, who project-managed the refurbishment and the furnishing of the new accommodation, about the flat and its purpose.

 

P: What is the rationale for this flat? Don’t RUC missionaries have their own homes to go to when they return for breaks or holidays?

J: Almost all have sold their homes and have gone to be missionaries full time. We have one or two missionaries who still own their South African home, but they would invariably have a tenant living in it.

The flat can be used by RUC’s 23 missionaries who work in SA, elsewhere in Africa and around the world. But there are others who work in the missionary field who are attached to different missionary organisations, and they can also be put up here.

We moved the previous missions flat to this part of the building as it’s larger and has an extra bedroom and bathroom. Whereas the old flat had only one bedroom, accommodating families with kids was awkward. Now we can even accommodate short-term teams, who might come from overseas to serve with Rays of Hope.

E: Sometimes we have missionaries coming from countries such as Malawi or Zambia because they need medical treatment either for themselves or for a sick child, and need affordable accommodation. Often they can’t afford to stay in a b&b or to rent rooms. We can lend a helping hand.

Most visiting missionaries are faced with financial constraints because missionary organisations don’t pay salaries; the missionaries have to raise their own support. RUC supports its own missionaries up to 30% of their support needs, depending into which category they fall, so they have to raise the balance of 70%+ themselves. Fortunately, generous support tends to come from RUC members, but also from other churches and related organisations.

 

P: How many couples can stay here at the same time?

J: We accommodate one family at a time. When people come back with a crisis to cope with, such as a medical emergency, or a planned furlough, you don’t want anyone else living in your space. For groups, the flat can sleep up to nine people, dormitory-style. This would be ideal for a team of young adults on a short-term missionary trip. There would be room for all of them around the dining room table.

We are fully booked until June 2019, and therefore might still call on members to put up visiting missionaries in their homes.

 

P: What kind of work had to be done to the new flat?

J: No extra building was required, but it did need more than a lick of paint! Except for some furniture from the old flat, everything was donated. You cannot believe the generosity of our church member when the call went out to help furnish the flat. For some items we had to arrange transport, but people mostly dropped off their items right here – anything from cushions, carpets and pictures to a dishwasher! Amazingly, we didn’t get a single duplicate item except for a double bed! This item we could give away. We also received a donation of R5,000 which was perfect as we could buy linen for the children’s room and other small necessities.

 

P: Who does the cleaning?

The church’s cleaning staff is fully occupied, so we outsource that function. While people are staying here they are responsible for their own cleaning, washing, ironing, whatever. And they cook their own meals.

 


 

Erin Wiesner, who is an administrator at the church, was seconded as the project manager for the renovation and refurbishing of the new flat.

 

She has intensive boots-on-the ground experience in construction and maintenance work, including issuing tenders, getting quotes, writing contracts and conducting the ensuing negotiations; liaising with the Church Council, which has to approve all expenditures; tracking down reliable suppliers; building-site co-ordination; knowing and complying with all relevant municipal regulations; selecting and employing a trustworthy handyman, and so on.

She has the perfect recipe for ensuring that all work get done properly, on budget and on time: “I am very good at nagging,” she smiles. “It’s a gift.”

Erin estimates that the total cost came in “under ten grand”.

 

Erin says the actual work on the flat took about six weeks to complete. It entailed a thorough clean-up of the premises, the installation of plumbing and electricity, and having all the walls repainted. The refurbishing took another month.

 


 

Wendy Lock of RUC, who is linked to Wycliffe Bible Translators, has been teaching missionary children at Faith Academy in Manila, Philippines, for 15 years. She was the first tenant to move into the new flat recently.

 

Wendy has stayed in the previous flat numerous times, and expected to do so again this time round.

“I thought I would get a mattress to put on the floor. Instead, I was told I could move into the new flat. The last one was a blessing, but this one is amazing!

 

“We don’t have dishwashers in the Philippines, or hot water that comes out of a tap.

 

“It’s lovely and it’s so quiet. In the mornings I make some tea and just sit and have time with the Lord while the beautiful sun comes streaming in. It’s like a haven to me. I have been staying here for six weeks, but have been away for some of the time.

 

“I have a small one-bedroom apartment below someone’s house in the Philippines, but don’t have a place I can call my own here. I have been staying here for six weeks. So it’s great to be able to stay in the mission flat when I’m here on furlough.

 

“I feel so blessed by the church that cares for us missionaries in such a beautiful way.”

 


Q&A with MAF International Board Member, Ndaba Mazabane

Picking the brain of Ndaba Mazabane, Board Member of MAF International

Ndaba joined the MAFI Board in September 2016. He serves as an associate pastor at Rosebank Union Church in Johannesburg, South Africa, and has also served as the fourth President of the International College of Bible and Missions (ICBM) based in Roodepoort, South Africa.

 

Ndaba recently returned from a MAF International board meeting and visit to MAF programmes, South Sudan and Kenya. We took the opportunity to pick his brain from his first-hand experience of the MAF field and of his thoughts on modern day mission work.

 

What stood out for you on your visit to Kenya and South Sudan?

I was delighted to see how MAF supported and enabled so many different kinds of outreaches to function in the middle of nowhere.

Although we live in a globalised world, isolation is still a harsh reality. We flew to one of MAF’s mission partners, RedTribe. It was an hour’s flight, but it would have taken days to drive in good weather. The short distance from the landing strip to the community we were visiting was only 8km, but it took an hour or so to drive because of the quality of the road infrastructure.

It was a privilege to see the missionaries’ tenacity. Before visiting South Sudan, we had to undergo an hour of security briefing about health, curfews, kidnapping and ransoms. We were only entering for a short period of time. Missionaries choose to live there with their children long-term. Their sheer commitment to spreading the gospel, their life of sacrifice and their joy of serving God in spite of challenging conditions in the face of danger really ministered to me.

 

What were some of the “take home” messages for you?

I came back grateful for those supporting MAF financially and prayerfully, for the volunteers giving their time and skills and the churches who are partnering with MAF. We are able to bridge the gap between the gospel and the isolated because of our supporters. Thank you.

Another take home for me was that often when we think of Mission Aviation Fellowship, we emphasise aviation. People think of pilots when they think of MAF. But without the other staff roles, the pilots cannot function. On the field there is a need for administrators, for engineers, for teachers.

MAF is doing their best to change the mind-set that we just need pilots. The fact that there is a Maasai Academy in the middle of nowhere means that there will be a need for teachers.

The needs on the mission field are many and diverse. When I visited Kenya, I met a Stock Control Manager, Engineers and Administrators and when visiting the Juba Christian Academy in South Sudan I found out that they are constantly looking for Teachers. What a joy to see how MAF comes alongside the church where there is a pool of skills, to be tapped into for Kingdom work. I am mindful of the the difficulty of raising support as an Administrator or Engineer on the mission field. But if those positions aren’t filled, how else are we to reach the isolated? The face of missions has changed. But the mission field still relies on the support of the church.

I encourage those who have a sense of God’s call on their lives to use their skill on the mission field. Ask the advice of your church and your trusted friends. You are going to need your church and friends and family behind you when you are on the field. Then get in touch with MAF.

I am a strong believer of when God calls us – He employs every area of our lives – your spiritual gifting, your personality and your passion. Those three things work together to make a unique person with a unique purpose.

Proverbs 22:29 says, if you are skilled then be prepared to serve. God took an educated man like Moses and used him in His service. He took David as a shepherd boy and made him a king. From a variety of skills God can use us.

The appeal is out there – if you feel the sense of call of God on your life to work in the mission field, come. Discuss with MAF whether this is the platform for you to help reach those who are physically and spiritually isolated. The field is ready for harvesting. God is seeking both your ability and availability.

 

What is your view of the modern-day missionary?

Missionaries are not only white. (Ndaba laughs.) The paradigm has shifted. The countries that used to send missionaries in large numbers have now become the mission field. Europe used to send missionaries and today they are receiving them. The centre for Christianity has shifted from the West to the rest of the world. America might still be sending missionaries in large numbers, but South Korea is not dissimilar, as the second largest sending force.

The stereotypical understanding of the missionary needs to break. God calls anyone. They say in London the largest church is Nigerian.

My prayer is that God would raise up the willing and the dedicated disciples who are ready to help fulfil the Great Commission in our generation.

Q&A with Missionary Wendy Lock

What is your personal background?

I was born in England but in 1975,  my family immigrated to South Africa. I was four years old.  That was when we joined Rosebank Union Church.  It was still meeting in the old Spanish church on Tyrwhitt Avenue. I went through the Sunday School and Youth Groups at Rosebank and loved being part of the amazing church.  When I finished high school I spent two years on a Music and Drama team which was part of the Baptist Youth of South Africa.  It was called the WOW team (Win Our World). When I returned I did a 6 month secretarial course and then was employed full time at Rosebank Union as the Church receptionist. I loved my time working for the church as well as being involved in the youth work of the church and the music ministry.  I ran a little teens choir and began leading worship in the evening services.  After 4 years of working full time at Rosebank I felt the desire to go and study and to at least get a degree behind my name.  God opened the doors for me to study teaching through Wits university and the church graciously allowed me to continue working for them part time during my studies. The moment I set foot in a classroom, I knew that teaching was what I was born to do. I look back at my time at Rosebank and realize that the church shaped my life not only spiritually but in so many other areas as well.

When and how did you come to faith in Jesus?

Growing up in the Sunday school I kept giving my life to Jesus over and over again.  Each time I just wanted to make sure I had done it properly.  You see, as a little girl I feared death and was never 100% sure that I was really a child of God.  But then at the age of 13 I was on Scripture Union camp down at Port Edward. On Easter Sunday morning at a sunrise service God met me in the most beautiful way.  It was the final time I asked Jesus into my heart because from that moment on I knew I had the Holy Spirit living inside of me and that the amazing gift of eternal life was waiting for me no matter what lay ahead. I wanted to spend time with God and grow in my relationship with Him.

Why did you become a missionary?

I have always loved being part of a church where missions plays such an important role.  Praying and supporting missionaries has also always been a huge value in my family as well.  But I must confess that growing up I was definitely the one who would say “Here am I Lord, but send someone else!”.  I will give and pray but I do not want to go. But during my first year of teaching I read a missionary biography by a lady called Isobel Kuhn. Reading her call to missions stirred my heart but more than anything I was deeply moved by the sacrifices that she had to make with her children. As her heart broke, when she put her little 6 year old daughter into boarding school, my heart broke as well. The Holy Spirit whispered gently to me “That’s where you can be involved in world missions, you can go and teach and love missionary children, while their parents are on the front lines.”  It was so amazing, a week later I found myself at a Missions Meeting and there was a couple sharing about a school for Missionary Children in the Philippines that desperately needed teachers, Faith Academy.  God had stirred my heart and then presented the need, how could I say NO to Him.

How are you currently involved in missions?

It took a couple more years before I finally left to go and teach at Faith Academy. One of the things that played a huge role in those two years of waiting was being part of a missions accountability group.  Its so easy to hear God’s call to missions, but Satan does not want us to go and so many obstacles can stand in the way.  The ‘Go Group’ met every Friday morning at 6:00am to not only pray for missions but to also keep each other on track and praying for each other as we applied to the mission’s organizations, raised support and prepared to go. Every single person that was part of that ‘Go Group’ ended up on the mission field. I love that this mission group that started up 18 years ago still meets every Friday morning at 6:00am to pray for our missionaries.

I have now completed my 15th year at Faith Academy. I actually can’t believe it! Where has the time gone?.  It has been an incredible Faith journey as I have seen God provide in such an incredible way. I am so grateful to Rosebank Union Church who have been there for me every step of my journey and who have not only supported me financially but prayed, cared and encouraged me in every step along the way.  I love that there have been 5 different short term mission groups that have come out to visit me in Manila.  Each time they have come, it has been such an encouragement.  There is really no place like Rosebank Union Church and I am so grateful to be part of this family.

How can RUC pray for you?

  • Please pray for the 26 or so little first graders that will be in my class this coming school year. Pray that there will be a precious sense of belonging for each one and that God would knit us together as a little team, encouraging and building one another up.
  • Please pray that I will continually lean into God for his wisdom and strength each and every day.  Teaching first graders can be tough in itself but sometimes I get overwhelmed with the diversity of needs that there are in my classroom.  I wish we had remedial teachers, occupational therapists and speech therapists, but unfortunately we don’t. Pray that I will keep my eyes fixed on God and that I will allow the spirit of God to fill me so that He can give me wisdom, ability and expertise in my teaching.  (Exodus 35:31)
  • Pray personally that I will prioritize what is important and that  I will make time for a balance in my life.
  • Pray for staffing needs.  We are always needing teachers but this coming school year the needs seem even bigger.  We critically need high school English teachers and Elementary Classroom teachers.  Pray also that those who are hoping to join us on staff will be able to raise their support to be with us for the beginning of the school year.

Holiday Club 2018

Holiday Club for the kids:

The Mission 28:19 Holiday Club !  We had a church filled with hundreds of children learning who Jesus is, what He did for us and what we should do for Him.  The week was packed with learning through fun games, crafts and activities and the kids have met our superhero guest speakers who shared their testimonies and how they are living their lives for Jesus in response to His call on their lives.

Mission 28:19 was led by an incredible group of over 70 teens who worked day and night to prepare for and lead the kids through the week.  We’ve seen the start of new friendships, wonderful discipleship and lots of fun!

Thank you to each and every person who contributed to the success of our holiday club programme.  We’ve been overwhelmed by the support in donations, helpers during the week and prayers.  A very special thank you to Nicola Winson for writing the programme for the kids and leaders.

We are so thankful for each child who attended, each leader who shared Jesus with the kids and for God’s work in the lives of each person involved in Holiday Club 2018.

by Donna Gray

Holiday Club for the leaders

Holiday Club 2018 has completely blown us away! Our record number of 70 leaders did a sterling job this year and served with great enthusiasm to ensure that Holiday Club was a huge success. There has been a wonderful sense of unity amongst the team and we feel extremely privileged to have worked with all of them. Well done guys and girls!

We are incredibly grateful to God for the work He has done in the lives of the leaders and children this year and we have certainly seen the effect of prayer throughout the week. As it so often is, our Wednesday Night Worship was a real highlight. There was a sense of freedom and joy as we worshipped God with one mind and heart. Holiday Club also gave us a fresh glimpse of the calibre of our youth and we have no doubt that God is raising up leaders who will make a significant impact for Christ in the future.

Please continue to pray for a ripple effect into areas where kids and teens live, learn and play. Pray that the Gospel advances and that the seeds planted bear much fruit.

by Dave Myburgh

 

Because of Bill

Earlier today, I had the privilege of sharing with the kids attending the RUC holiday club. It was great. The Jerusalem Hall was packed. Wall-to-wall kids and leaders. There was a great vibe. The walls were decorated with eye-catching, contemporary graphics, and the holiday Club theme — MISSION — hit me in the face as I entered. The place was pumping.

I began my brief talk by writing 60+9=69 on a flip-chart and asked the kids what they thought it meant. Some bright spark called out, “You’re 69!” I asked, “Do I look 69?” There was a mixed response. Shucks! I was hoping they’d all shout, “NO!” I then wrote 47 on the flip chart and explained that that is the number of years I have been a pastor, and that as a pastor I have had the privilege of preaching and sharing the Word of God with thousands of people all over the world.

Then I pointed them back to 9. I was 9 when I came to know Jesus. I was 9 when my sins were forgiven. I was 9 when I was called into ministry. How did it happen? His name was Bill.

Bill was in Grade 3 with me at Stanger Secondary School in KZN (‘Natal’ back then). He was the son of the local Station Master. He lived down the road. We played cricket and soccer and marbles together, and explored our small town on our bikes. Bill was not super-good-looking or exceptionally bright, but he was my friend. We were mates.

One day Bill invited me to attend Sunday School with him at the local Methodist Church. The very thought of another day of school was a turn-off, so I said no. The next week he invited me again and I gave the same answer. But he persisted. Again. And again. I can’t remember for how long he kept bugging me, but eventually I went with him.

I can still smell the musty smell in that little church hall. I can still see the rather large lady who led the worship (it was called ‘singing’ back then). I enjoyed it. I was hooked. And in the weeks and months that followed, I — a boy who came from a home where there was no Bible or church or prayer or Jesus — heard the gospel and, through the work of the Holy Spirit, came to faith in Christ. The trajectory of my life was changed at the age of 9 because of a boy named Bill. Because of Bill, 60 years of following Jesus have followed. Because of Bill, 47 years of full-time ministry have followed. BECAUSE OF BILL!

Without knowing the terminology, Bill was a REDEMPTIVE INFLUENCE.

Will you be Bill to someone?

Your friend and pastor,

Leigh

,

Partnering with you to create lasting change in Alexandra

Rays of Hope

I recently found an inspiring quote from our nation’s great leader:

Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity; it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and erradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.” Nelson Mandela

I’m challenged by this – and encouraged.

I know that Jesus said that we will always have the poor with us, but he also commanded us to look after the widows, the orphaned and the foreigner and to help those in need. I love this passage where he illustrates how we are serving him by caring for others in need:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, …” –  Matt. 25

And the wise man Solomon said in Proverbs 19, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will repay him for his deed.”

What a privilege it is to be able to serve the LORD from our hearts through our words, deeds and the things we’ve been given stewardship of!

Please JOIN us in being part of creating lasting change in Alexandra township, by working with us in these 2 ways:

B-BBEE

This is greatly important for us to create sustainability in impacting people’s lives in Alex. We’re looking for people and companies to partner with for the long term and are in the position to offer:

  • Ownership
  • Enterprise (ED) & Supplier Development (SuD)
  • Skills Development
  • Socio-Economic Development (SED)
  • We’ve created a trust for our B-BBEE partnerships, of which Rays of Hope is the sole beneficiary.
  • The benefits of partnering with us in this way include:
  • the highest number of B-BBEE points available to you, due to 100% black South African beneficiaries with <50% women ownership;
  • your reputation is safe due to Rays of Hope’s 27 year clean track record and excellent standing;
  • a holistic offering for companies combining a one-stop shop for B-BBEE partnership and CSI initiatives that have real impact, working together with our existing programmes in Alex.

Our next B-BBEE Information session will be on Tuesday 29th May 4:30-6:30pm at RUC. Please RSVP to tracey@raysofhope.co.za if you’re interested in attending.

If this is not something that pertains to you, please join us in spreading the word about it – you never know how YOUR sharing this information could impact lives!

Another initiative we’re running is FEED-A-FAMILY.

We support our families in the community with non-perishable food items – this is a way that anyone from RUC can help us!

This food is sorted and provides basic supplies for the 26 vulnerable families (140 people) in our Ithemba Labantwana programme, monthly.  We aim to provide about 25% of a family’s basic needs, to relieve financial pressures and in line with our philosophy of giving people a hand up, rather than a hand out. The children in the programme are also fed twice a week during homework club.

HOW DO I DO THIS?

Please collect one of the Rays of Hope buckets at the Info Desk in the RUC Street. A list of the items of each family’s needs will be included on each bucket. The type of items are mealie meal, tinned pilchards, soya mince, sugar, long life milk, baked beans, rice, soup, tea and peanut butter. We also include every second month, cleaning products and on alternate months, cooking oil. Please take the bucket and fill it with all or some of the items on the list and return the bucket to the Rays of Hope offices (behind the RUC main building), during the week or at the Info Desk on Sunday.

If you’d like to “adopt” a family for a 6-12 month period, in providing them with a full food bucket, please mail trish@raysofhope.co.za. This would be a great help in assisting us with our budgeting for our families.

And last but not least …

RAYS OF HOPE TOUR OF ALEX

Join us on Saturday 19th May for an exclusive Rays of Hope Tour of Alex! These only take place 3 times a year and offer you an opportunity to see first hand the work that we’re doing and to meet some of the amazing people we’re working with.

DATE & TIME: Saturday 19th May 2018, 9am-2pm (meeting at Marlborough office)

RSVP: by Tuesday 15th May to Trish@RaysOfHope.co.za

COST: R100, which includes braai lunch in Alex

Thanks SO much in being part of creating lasting change for good in Alex, in these ways!

FOR THOSE WHO ARE NEW TO RAYS OF HOPE

Rays of Hope was started by members of Rosebank Union Church’s youth in 1991, wanting to play a role in making a positive impact in our country, starting with our nearest township, Alexandra. Our first programme, Rose-ACT Saturday school has been run consistently since then. Rays of Hope and RUC have continued to partner and although Rays of Hope is an independent body, we are the church’s ministry to the poor.

Over the years Rays of Hope has blossomed into a network of nine community-based programmes focusing on caring for orphaned and vulnerable children, improving education and assisting with skills development and work readiness. We’re currently impacting over 2,600 people weekly, working together with many Alex-based partnering organizations, to make a deep, lasting impact on our neighbouring community.

By Kirstin Barwise (Marketing Manager)

A Theology of Ordinary Life

So much of life feels ordinary. Paying bills. Going to school. Replying to emails. Buying toothpaste. But what if every single day we are missing many opportunities to glorify God in the ordinary?

I believe we are often guilty of a sacred/secular split in our lives. We say, “this stuff is spiritual, but this stuff is ordinary.” A more biblical view is to see all of life (even the ordinary) as gifts from God to be enjoyed, stewarded well and used to glorify God.

The Apostle Paul challenges us: So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Cor 10:31). All of life is packed into the word “whatever.” We are called to sleep, eat, drink, work, laugh, relax, play to the glory of God.

I read a short booklet this past week by Tim Chester. It may just be the single most profoundly challenging book I have read in a long time. It is entitled: The Everyday Gospel, A Theology of Washing the Dishes. I have never realised how much the Bible has to teach about something as ordinary as cleaning the kitchen sink – but it is a picture pointing to all of life! It is about making a link between Sunday and Monday! We can easily get caught up in the outward, upfront, visible, seemingly super-spiritual endeavours of the Christian faith and yet neglect the ordinary.

Martin Luther once asked whether it was possible to change nappies to the glory of God: “Alas, must I rock the baby, wash its diapers, make its bed, smell its stench, stay up nights with it, take care of it when it cries, heal its rashes and sores.” Before we turn up our nose at the ordinary, Luther breathes gospel air into our lives by saying: “What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels.”

Perhaps that is why God’s Word calls church leaders to evaluate the ordinary in their lives: to be hospitable, not to abuse alcohol, to manage their families well, to have a good reputation with outsiders, etc. As someone once said to me: “Justin, you are only as spiritual as the rest of you!”

I believe the church of today is underestimating the power of the ordinary. The ordinary seems so boring compared to the great big projects of Christian endeavour. As Michael Horton writes, “‘Ordinary’ has to be one of the loneliest words in our vocabulary today … I am convinced that we have drifted from the true focus of God’s activity in this world. It is not to be found in the extraordinary, but in the ordinary, the everyday.”” (Ordinary, Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World)

The ordinary is where you spend the majority of your time. Think how much time you spend eating, sleeping (a third of your life), working & relaxing and yet how many sermons have you heard on these subjects? So few books have been written! Surely if the majority of your life will be spent asleep, or at the table, or at work or at play then we should ensure we have a robust theology of the ordinary!

The chances are that it’s one of these areas that holds the greatest potential to either help or hinder your Christian walk and witness. The ordinary is where you sin the most. We sleep, eat, drink, work and relax either too little or too much. The truth is a straight line down the middle. Most Christians shipwreck their faith or blemish their witness because something went wrong in the ordinary.

Thomas Brooks the old Puritan preacher once said in the 1600s: “Little sins often slide into our soul, and breed, and work secretly and undiscernibly in the soul, that they come to be so strong, as to trample the soul… a little hole in the ship sinks it; a small breach in a sea-bank carries away all before it; a little stab at the heart kills a man; and a little sin, without a great deal of mercy, will damn a man.” (Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices)

May God enable us His people to redeem the ordinary as Jesus did. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He slept among us. He cried among us. He got tired among us. He ate and drank among us. He enjoyed life among us. He expressed the full range of human emotions. He infused the common and ordinary with new meaning. He touched the unclean-leprosy-ridden “things” of this world and made them clean. And then He died and rose again among us to redeem us.

I have a renewed desire to be faithful in the little things. I am challenged by Jesus’ words: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. (Luke 16:10). Perhaps it is being faithful in the ordinary things of life that will really be the next big thing – and radically change the world!

By Justin Tamlin (Pastor of Worship & Arts)

Our Differences Make a Difference – and that’s God’s plan!

Diversity

The conditions for revival as we see in scripture include confession and repentance from presumptuous and wilful sins and seeking and pursuing the heart of God. Sin is an obstacle to authentic Christian living. Therefore, it is critical that it be dealt with in our personal lives and within God’s community. Many a time the church has found herself comfortable with certain sins to the extent that these become pervasive in her way of life and manifestation of the gospel message. Our brokenness has often expressed itself in how we relate with one another. Yet this is a critical aspect of our Christian living. In Mark 12:30-31, we are reminded of the fact that our love for neighbour is the second highest biblical priority after the love of God. Overt or covert racism is a direct violation of this second greatest command. However, the Church of our Lord has often missed the mark on this one as it has on several other areas of Christian practice. For example, the church got it wrong on slavery, through flawed theological, historical and social reasoning. Rosebank Union Church (RUC) needs to stand firm on the biblical truth of racial diversity – she must not conform to the cultural and political message that is ever so loud in our places of work and various social and family settings. We must diligently make an effort to do what leads to sincere peace and mutual edification across race, age and gender within our local church.

It is in this context that RUC Eldership began discussions on the state of racial diversity within our local church early in the second quarter of 2017. Later in that year the church had the “What’s Your Story” series that sought to encourage us to learn and embrace our differentness within the context of the gospel and our personal life journeys. After the series the Church Council committed to set aside a weekend (Bridge Weekend), with the help of the Heartlines Organisation, to address racial diversity at RUC. However, because of the racial composition of Council, which is largely white and male, some members of the church were requested to help enrich the discussions. These members consisted persons from RUC “minority” groups. There were 33 participants at the Bridge Weekend, 18 council members and 15 church members. The final group was fairly representative in terms of race, gender, age and stage of life, which provided a healthy balance of views, experience and opinion in the discussions.

The discussions were not easy but were necessary. The sharing of our personal stories opened our minds to how different we are in the journeys we’ve taken and how God has been working on us in our brokenness. Wounds of the past were opened. We were angry. We were defensive. We engaged with one another nonetheless. We are grateful to God that we did. We are grateful for the facilitation of Simon Lerefolo and Quinton Pretorius from Heartlines.

However, this is only the beginning of the journey towards biblical racial transformation and diversity at RUC. The leadership must develop strategies and tactics that will help RUC to live and practice the gospel vision of racial transformation and diversity. Our DNA must be transformed to reflect the gospel message in this regard. The Bridge Weekend discussions have helped RUC leadership to get moving on this journey.

Heartlines has agreed to partner with RUC on this journey. The group felt that:

  • RUC must devise a biblical theology of racial diversity.
  • RUC must develop and implement a plan for change both in the leadership and executive management structure of the church.
  • RUC must welcome the potential fear, anger and resistance to such change and support everyone to overcome these challenges.
  • RUC must ensure that the church has sound biblical goals and objectives on racial diversity and multi-culturism, preaching, worship, discipleship, ministries, leadership development, training, etc.

We are grateful to God for making it possible to embark on this endeavour. A big thank you to the membership and congregation for your prayers, thoughts and support. Let’s pray to God for help to make the change He requires of us at a deep and meaningful level. Let’s rid ourselves of the sin of racism in all its forms. Let’s dream God’s dream about the future of RUC. Let’s obey God in truthfully reconciling with each other. Let’s become the people God is calling us to be. Let’s pray that this may be a reality in His local church, during our time. In heaven we shall worship God in all our diversity, and that is, in part, God’s dream for his church:

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb … And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9, 14.

by Tito Magagula

A life lived on mission for God

Ed Thomas

In celebration of the life of Edward Thomas, by Ros Thomas

You can’t really export something that you don’t honestly believe in. It has nothing to do with your circumstances or your feelings but your unflinching  trust in an unchanging God. It is better not to say anything than to be a fake. On the other hand, when God is doing a deep work in your life, you can’t help yourself; He simply pours out of you.

That’s  how Ed and I were from the start. Benzene and matches wherever we went. Each being inspired further by the other. I was the networker and Ed added the depth. Although we both worked full time jobs in the beginning, evangelism was the undercurrent of our every move. It was deeply satisfying. We learnt to live simply so that other’s could simply live. Our own children, started  arriving early in our marriage and they were part of our happy band. I became a full time mother when they were born and got involved in all sorts of things with them and at the same time reaching out to all kinds of lost people. Many came to live with us!

Weekends in our early marriage  looked like this:  We had a house church; Saturday evenings we had a youth group which included supper; Sunday mornings, at the crack of dawn, Ed preparing spiritually, me cleaning up, preparing lunch and then  both of us leaving for Cliffview Primary school at around 8am where Ed and I were Sunday school teachers. The highlight of that time was seeing the whole Sieberhagen family receiving Christ as their Saviour one by one- last of all was Bill their father who was a successful bank manager. The whole family years later became missionaries (mainly in Muslim countries). Our son Michael’s second name is Dean after the eldest Sieberhagen son.

We would rush home to prepare for the morning service and the Sunday school teachers who were teaching in Riverlea township in the afternoon would have a quick cup of tea. Then the morning service and then Riverlea in the afternoon, and sometimes an evening meeting.

Then it was students from all over Africa who lived with us to learn English. That went on for 7 years cooking for them 7 days a week. Many came to RUC and many had their lives totally transformed by God.

All the while, over the weekends, Ed was in the prisons mentoring people and teaching them. How they loved him! Later at Gold Fields he and his dear friend Gerald Gossman had Monday lunch time Bible studies for about 12 years for the people working there. A rewarding time for them both.

Then I became a part of a youth church just being around young people and loving them. Our first week brought in a 20 year old lad found on the corner  area of C.R. Swart and Beyers Naude on every drug under the sun. He received Christ that night and moved in and He has been clean of drugs for 13 years now and has a wife, 3 children and a successful Nursery School where he teaches, mentoring young children, many of whom don’t have daddies of their own. He spoke at Eds memorial.

About the same time, Celeste our third child arrived home from Wits University with Musa Manzi.  Broken and homeless after his mother and sister died leaving two daughters. He was kicked out of Wits that November because he had to return to KwaZulu Natal twice to do their funerals. Celeste found him crying. She brought him home, the two nieces followed- 6 and 8 they were at the time. We named them Joy and Hope. And they all lived with us for years. Back to Wits he went and years later he was the first black PHD in Geo Physics, winning top place in the world for his thesis. Ground breaking work! He has become a great influencer in multitudes of people’s lives all over the world. He sang a beautiful solo at Eds memorial service.

Then there was Alick Banda an unknown Black pastor from Malawi who arrived at this youth church with Curtis Love. God had called Alick to study at Bible college in Jhb. No money, no books , no nothing. But God had called him. We developed an instant love and respect for each other. I took him home to Ed and Ed did the mentoring for years. The three of us became members at RUC on the same day Leigh and Irene arrived to pastor at RUC in 2005, and they have mentored us ! The rest is history.

During this time, Ed had this old Citi Golf and he could fit in about 12 children, mainly, for church. He had to get extra suspension! After church every Sunday for years, he would take them to the garage on William Nicol near RUC and treat them all to hamburgers  and cold drinks.

Then it was Thailand, the richest experience of our lives. We found ourselves in the South for two years, me networking everywhere and Ed adding the depth. Ed spent hours and hours in Raj ‘s tailor shop in Aonang, Krabi , showing the Hindu leader in the area from his own Bagawadghita the flaws of his religion. I was poisoned later by Muslims and we came home. I was with my mom for the last eight months of her life. A rich experience.

After that a Singaporean man unknown to us, Michael Lim, invited us to serve God in the North East of Thailand, mainly among prisoners.  Immediately we both said yes. We were walking around Emmarentia dam at the time. We both knew instinctively that this was it: teaching English and the gospel!

I simply can’t explain to you adequately,  the thrill on our second visit to that particular men’s prison. We were studying light and darkness. They each had a page of pictures depicting light and darkness and I asked if anybody wanted to say anything. 52 year old Manop jumped to his feet instantly and literally fell over the tables and chairs to get to us first.  There in the middle of his page was a Buddha. Mama, he said, “me don’t  want Buddha, me want Jesus .” We led him and 6 or 7 others to Christ that day, then more and more. Celeste and Shaun had brought 14 NLT  Bibles from South Africa and, equipped with dictionaries for each one, we got stuck into the Word.

Not long afterwards the prison was closed to us, but God’s work had begun to take root.

It is GOD’S  work beginning and end, and He does the rest. Ed got very sick shortly afterwards and never recovered, dying two and a half years later. His work on earth was done. God had called him home; His work in me goes on.

,

God’s Mission through Rays of Hope

Rays of Hope

And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did to me.”  (Matthew 25:40)

What a privilege it is to share in this mandate to love and serve our brothers as our King has told us to! And what a privilege it is to share in this mandate with YOU – the local body of Christ at Rosebank Union. Thank you for putting your resources, whether your time, talents, connections, finances and prayers, into action in helping us serve our brothers and sisters less fortunate than us.

May you and yours be blessed exceedingly and abundantly, as our Lord promises! When we sow generously, He promises that we will reap generously! Our God is not a man that He should lie, particularly in this area.

This month, we’re looking at missional living and I’d like to highlight a few people that you may or may not know of that serve in different ways, whatever they’re able to with the capacity they have, but together we serve a greater purpose – to spread the love of our Christ in a very tangible way, by (adapted from Matt. 25:35-36) “giving me food when I was hungry, giving me something to drink when I was thirsty, welcoming me when I was a stranger to you, clothing me when I was naked, visiting me when I was sick, coming to me when I was in prison”.

Some of the beautiful people I’d like to honour who have served with Rays of Hope over the years, include:

Our oldest volunteer, Dorothy, who collects food from Fournos Benmore weekly, and brings it to our Sandton office, which we then distribute to the Alex Old Age home, iThemba Labantwana (looking after orphaned and vulnerable children) and to the 23 creche’s, in Alex, which we support through our Early Childhood Development programme.

Our longest serving couple Richard & Denise O’Callaghan (both in their 70’s), who’ve served at Rose-ACT for over 10 years and who have been on the committee for longer, are absolute gems in serving the kids who come hungry to learn!

Our longest continually-involved-in-giving-back ex-Rose-ACT student, Banele Mtebele, who has been part of Rays of Hope, since starting at Rose-ACT Saturday school as a student in 2002, then became a part of our IGNITION Tertiary education support programme (whilst tutoring at Rose-ACT). Banele, now 30 years old, is an accomplished TV editor at Rhythm City, while still tutoring at Rose-ACT and has started his own Grade 9 life skills club (“Club 9-9”), to continue the work that was begun through Rays of Hope.

The amazing women, who serve in Home Based Care, who weekly go into situations, which would be difficult to face in a normal home situation, but are often next level challenging in a shack or single room – to serve those that are unable to look after themselves. Ladies, your tireless commitment is hugely admirable – thank you!

And last but not at all least, I’d like to acknowledge our longest standing staff member, Louise Cameron, a Dutch Ozzie, who has chosen to serve for the past 15 years running Rose-Act. Louise steadfastness in serving for so many years is a great example to me of commitment – thank you Louise for everything you’ve given, and continue to give, in serving in Rose-Act.

And in closing, in reference to Jesus’ words recorded at the end of Matthew chapter 25:

“Then the King will say to those on his right (the sheep he has separated), “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world”.

So thank you to ALL who are already a part of this work in Alex – please keep sowing with and sharing about Rays of Hope! To those who aren’t yet a part of our work at Rays of Hope – we’d love to have you join us in this integral work in the kingdom and being a part of creating lasting change in Alex for good!